The other day I was sitting in my office, pacing actually; waiting for positive word from a gentleman on a business transaction I am currently working on.
All I knew for sure was a call would come sometime during the day. Seconds seemed like minutes, and minutes became hours. Unable to contain myself, I decided to get in my car and drive around, maybe I could go downtown I thought to myself. This destination would be for no particular reason but I rationalized that I would be close to this mans office if I were needed.
My mind raced with opportunity as I drove, offering silent prayers as I proceeded on my voyage. When I reached downtown, the call hadn’t come yet and I really had nowhere specific to go. My route took me through Salt Lake as I marveled at the beauty of our cities new construction, which is creating a marvelous up-to-date city center.
Traveling yet a little further I found myself stopping at a light, I was eastbound on North Temple just before State Street. There were many people on the crosswalks going to lunch or headed shopping I thought to myself, when I noticed a homeless woman begging on the street corner. My light seemed fixed on “red” for quite a long time. As the hurried workers/shoppers passed this woman, they nearly all ignored the fact this she was even there.
I know I too have passed people such as this woman with little to no thought at all sometime during my life. Today was different for some reason. I could see in this woman something different, something very special. She was kind, never pushy, and solicited sincerely without saying a word.
One gentleman in particular caught my attention as he reached into his pocket. He seemed to grab everything inside, not even looking into his hand to see what he had obtained, and then handing it to her as he passed. She took his offering with dignity and grace. My heart felt the generosity of this mans gift as my light turned green.
There truly was something different I felt as I watched the events that unfolded in front of me at that light. I couldn’t help but be curious. I had seen the “60 Minute” clip on how some street beggars are merely a front for collecting monies from our societies kindness. As I had remembered, the story suggested that if you were going to donate, do so with a charity so you know it is used appropriately.
Having no real need to be anywhere other than answer the phone when my call came in, I pulled off to the side into a metered parking stall. I thought to myself, I would go back to this intersection and find out what was so unique about this woman in need.
As I approached the intersection, happily she was still there. In my years I have never seen a single person who attracted as much attention as this woman did. I could see that when she received an offering of any kind she would appear to look skyward. I too felt a need to give so I walked by handing her the cash I had in my pocket. As I did, I swear I heard her say, “God bless you” under her breath.
As I turned around to see if she was speaking to me, I noticed she was gathering her belongings in communication with a woman who had stopped to talk with her. They were chatting, making their way down the street together. I am embarrassed to admit my curiosity peaked. Unfortunately I began to wonder if the two were a team and they were doing this together with neither of them in real need.
They went into the food court of the mall and up to the counter to order lunch. I hadn’t eaten and knew I could take my call in the mall as well as anywhere outside; so I went to a different food vendor and got myself something to eat. Not wanting to be obvious I took a table two sections away from where they were sitting.
As these two women sat to eat it was obvious the “homeless” woman was hungry and ragged, perhaps hadn’t eaten in days. I sat unable to sense whether or not there was a scheme unfolding before me when this marvelous woman put me to shame; she folded her hands, bowed her head, and said grace.
I thought for a moment about the significance of witnessing someone offering thanks for this gift she received; I know she knew there are treasures in heaven for those who give to others in their times of need.
Now completely engaged with the experience of watching this wonderful woman, I lost track of my need for the call. After eating the two got up and went separate ways. I wanted to see what was next in this woman’s day so I continued to follow.
She walked outside and down the street. I tagged along not knowing where she was going and clearly wanting to stay out of her sight. She walked for blocks when I realized where she was going, to the homeless shelter! Now realizing my experiment was over; I watched as she went out of site into the shelter. I couldn’t follow; I had no real reason to intrude, but I elected to walk slowly by the front on my way back to my car.
There is a large gathering area just inside the homeless shelters front door. I had participated in events in this facility before and knew a little about the layout. There she was, moving from person to person, handing them what seemed to be portions of the money she had collected on the street. I stopped, probably with my mouth wide open as I found myself lost in staring.
I will never be able to say whether or not I was making a fool of myself, standing there watching, but I couldn’t help myself. Here was a woman who spent her morning collecting what were needed funds in her life and she was giving it all away.
I turned to leave, walking slowly again, thinking to myself, “Wow, I may have just witnessed a miracle.” As I approached the doorway to the shelter she was just leaving. I motioned to her, asking if I could visit with her. She acknowledged me and came near.
The simple gift I had given her earlier was just a quick passing I felt; I didn’t really even see her eye to eye. However, she quickly said to me, “Oh, yes young man, you are one who gave me some money over on North Temple earlier; thank you.” I about fell over, “Yes ma’am I am,” amazed at her memory knowing how many people had passed her way.
I just watched you give all you collected away! Young man, everyone in this shelter is in need, strangers to us perhaps, yet all fellow human beings. I know they need the money worse than I do, some unable to do anything for themselves. I was blessed to eat and have enough to live for a couple days. How can I possibly ask others to assist me if I am reluctant to give to others in their times of need? I am grateful to be able to give.
In tears I left this woman with a deep understanding of the beautiful life lessons she innocently taught me as my phone rang; it was my awaited call.
Be thankful for “all” of your blessings. Lead by example: your performance is a mirror, which reflects back on you.